KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Kingsport Police Department (KPD) unveiled the installation of Flock Safety Automated License Plate Reading Cameras throughout the city on Tuesday.
According to a release from the KPD, their agency is the first in Northeast Tennessee to implement this kind of technology.
“These cameras are where officers can’t always be,” said Tom Patton, KPD’s Public Information Officer. “It’s kind of a force multiplier of law. Law enforcement agencies are understaffed in the country, and struggling with staffing. So, this puts basically an extra set of eyes and ears all throughout the city to watch for stolen vehicles and wanted subjects and things like that.”
The cameras, which are already installed and fully operational, work to identify vehicles of interest to the KPD in real time, according to the release. Vehicles of interest could include wanted fugitives, stolen cars or even missing people, according to the KPD.
The cameras capture visual evidence, including a vehicle’s make and model, color, license plate and even unique features like dents or stickers. The cameras then take the visual evidence gathered and send it back to the KPD with the location, date, time and frequency of the vehicle included, the release said.
“So, if there’s somebody we’re looking for, even if we don’t have their tag number it can oftentimes alert on that,” said Patton.
“Flock Safety Cameras are another tool in our crime-fighting toolbox to assist us with deterring and solving crimes and apprehending criminals,” said KPD Chief of Police Dale Phipps.
“We are extremely proud to be the first law enforcement agency in the Northeast Tennessee region to offer this incredible service to the citizens whom we are sworn to protect and serve. Having this technology at our disposal will help make Kingsport an even safer place than it already is to live, work, and raise our families,” Phipps said.
Kingsport resident, Angela Bowser, said she believes this is a good tool for the city.
“I know it’s something that other states have implemented, and it could be good for car thefts and for child abductions; things like that, and help maybe locate missing children quicker,” said Bowser.
According to the release, Flock Saftey reports an average of 120 alerts per hour across its nationwide network of cameras. Communities utilizing the Flock Safety network have reported “significant” reductions in crime and improvement in the recovery of stolen property, the release said.
The nationwide network helps police departments correspond with each other, as well.
“We all can get the same alerts as vehicles pass through,” said Patton. “So, they could be reported stolen in another state all the way across the country and happen to travel into Kingsport, Tennessee, and we can recover it here.”
The cameras are only located on public highways and roadways in Kingsport.
“They don’t record in any private areas or somebody’s private property. It’s all public roadways,” said Patton.
The KPD said these cameras are already installed and functioning across their jurisdiction.